Week 3 marks the final non-conference games for the Western Mountain Athletic Conference, which begins league play next week.
WNC’s three other conferences have at least two more weeks of play outside their leagues, and as always there are some intriguing match-ups for the schools in the WNC/WLOS.com Top 10 poll, including the mountain’s best rivalry featuring two ranked teams.
Week 3 includes:
No. 10 Tuscola (1-0) at No. 1 Pisgah (2-0)
The Bears’ defense has been impressive in wins against Murphy (15-8) and Enka (24-6) while the offense has been slow to develop under sophomore quarterback Korey Griffith.
Tuscola had last week off after a season-opening win against Swain in the debut of head coach JT Postell.
Pisgah holds the all-time edge in the battle for Haywood County 27-26-1, thanks to five straight wins in the series.
Pick: Pisgah by 4.
Owen (1-0) at No. 2 Reynolds (1-1)
Coach Shane Laws was thrilled about how his team responded to an opening-night loss at Southern Durham by knocking off 2A power Shelby 17-14, just the 11th loss in the last 83 games for the Golden Lions.
The Warhorses got off to a great start with a 34-7 win over Enka in Week 1 and will have had two weeks to prepare for their biggest rival.
Reynolds leads the all-time series 38 25 and has averaged 41 points a game in winning 11 of the last 12 seasons.
Pick: Reynolds by 23.
No. 3 Murphy (1-1) at Central Davidson (1-0)
The Bulldogs flexed their offensive muscles in an impressive win against Franklin, rushing for 361 yards.
The early favorite to win the Smoky Mountain 1A Conference, Murphy travels to play a program that snapped a four-year, 34-game losing streak last week with a 26-18 win over Atkins.
Pick: Murphy by 13.
No. 4 Erwin (2-0), bye
Early frontrunner for WNC’s top player is Warriors quarterback Kendrick Weaver, who has 780 yards of offense and has accounted for 10 touchdowns in impressive wins against Mitchell and Mountain Heritage.
Now coach Rodney Pruett gets an extra week to prepare for a showdown that could decide the Western Mountain Athletic Conference, a Sept. 7 home date vs. No. 2 Reynolds.
No. 6 Asheville (1-1) at No. 5 Hendersonville (2-0)
Intriguing non-conference matchup featuring a field full of WNC’s top receivers. The Cougars have Trevon Robinson and Famous Paisley, while Hendersonville counters with Kalin Ensley and Nasir Artis.
All four are game-breakers off to good starts, and the defense that best limits these explosive players will have the edge.
The Cougars forced three turnovers and limited Webb School to 185 yards in a 35-10 win last week, while the Hendersonville defense hasn’t allowed a point in its first two games.
Pick: Asheville by 1.
Cannon School (1-1) at No. 7 Christ School (1-1)
The Greenies lost more than a 21-point lead Saturday in a 28-21 defeat vs. Episcopal (Tex.).
Tailback Sidney Gibbs suffered a broken right leg in the second quarter and will miss the rest of his senior season.
In 10 career full games at Christ School, the Owen transfer averaged more than 200 yards rushing per game, the kind of production that is all but irreplaceable.
Counting his running totals from Owen, Gibbs finishes his career with 4,020 yards. He was on a pace to finish inside the top 10 of WNC’s career rushers.
Cannon School is coming off a 27-6 loss to Mitchell.
Rabun Gap, Ga., (1-0) at No. 8 Franklin (1-1)
The Panthers look to regroup after an uncharacteristic loss to Murphy in which the running game struggled and the passing game threw four interceptions.
This is a homecoming for Rabun Gap coach Shawn Bryson, who was a star running back at Franklin and Tennessee and played in the NFL. He is 5-7 in his second season with Rabun Gap.
Pick: Franklin by 11.
No. 9 Mountain Heritage (1-1), bye
WNC’s longest regular-season winning streak came to an end last week in the Cougars’ 50-40 loss at Erwin.
Coach Joey Robinson’s program had won 16 straight games in the regular season, a run that dated back to the middle of the 2016 season.
The Cougars’ next game is Sept. 7 at home vs. Rosman.
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